Interviewed by Sukhmani Sadana: March 2021
What were your younger days like?
My younger days were very normal like any other child playing tennis, swimming and playing different sports. I used to love studying, so yeah, it was a very normal middle-class life that led, I guess, and I was a single child till I was almost seven then my sister came along, and we are a very close-knit family, and it has always been that way.
You have been the pride of India and started when women and sports were a rare choice. How do you feel now with so many sports avenues opening for girls?
Yeah, well when I started obviously, there were not many young girls playing tennis or many sports for that matter, but today as we know we have got some of the biggest stars of our country are women sportsperson, so it’s incredible. I think it’s an amazing path for young girls to choose a different calling, and I think it’s fantastic that we have so many great champions from our country and things have gotten so much better now, and hopefully, it will only rise from here.
When did you know that you wanted to be a tennis player?
I think when I was about 12 was when I really decided what I wanted to do with my life and this career path I wanted to take before that. It was always I was playing tennis enjoying it, but I didn’t know if it was going to be my career.
How do you manage motherhood and playing at the same time? What’s more challenging?
I think that you know women are good at multitasking and God has made us this way, so it been something that’s not easy definitely, there’s a whole army that goes into it my parents have a good team my sister But I think motherhood and playing at the same time is not just that I do, I do many more things I have a good team around me who supports me and helps me so much so I don’t know what’s more challenging everything is a challenge, but I enjoy it all and wouldn’t have it any other way.
How do you cope up with weight training and tennis both together to keep fit?
There is no secret; I love what I do, and I don’t do it if I don’t love it. I enjoy everything that I do, so there is actually no secret to being active or proactive. I do whatever I believe, love, and enjoy doing and work hard for it.
Your best memory about tennis/ tournament/ match?
I don’t think I have one best tennis memory. I’ve had a very long career but definitely winning Wimbledon and becoming number 1 in the world are two things, and those two moments that will always be very close to my heart.
What’s your secret that you always stay so proactive?
It is part of my job, and also, I like to be healthy and fit, so it comes naturally to me to work out and work hard, but it’s also a requirement of my job.
Tell us something about your journey back to tennis post your pregnancy and delivery?
It’s obviously been extremely hard. I put on 23 kilos, I lost 26 kilos in 4 months, and then I have to get fit to be able to play tennis and be strong. But the fact is it’s something I have enjoyed doing and done it. Even if I weren’t going to play tennis, I would have done to go back to being healthy it’s been a challenging journey, but it’s been worth it if you ask me today.
You’re titled as one of the ‘50 Heroes of Asia’. Tell us, three other women you consider as Heroes?
My mom, Michelle Obama, and Serena Williams.